by Bryle Suralta
Letran head coach Jeff Napa (Right) advises Knights star Rey Nambatac (Left) coming out of a time-out.
(Photo by Abigail Arendain)
National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Season 92 defending champs Colegio de San Juan de Letran couldn’t quite match last year’s Cinderella run.
The Knights ended their season on a high note with a 93-87 overtime win against the Emilio Aguinaldo College (EAC) Generals.
They ended the season on a 9-9 win-loss slate, falling short of a final four appearance and a chance to defend the NCAA title.
Letran had high hopes entering the season after an impressive run with then-head coach Aldin Ayo and their three core players, Mark Cruz, Rey Nambatac and Kevin Racal.
Even if the latter moved on and signed with De La Salle University and having two of the former graduate and pursue professional careers in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
Unlike the prior season, the Knights were one of the more pleasant surprises that the league produced, they went from a low-seeded mediocre team in season 90 to a crown favourite in season 91.
Alas, this wasn’t the same storyline for Letran this season.
The team went through a lot of changes, from staff changes to player rotation adjustments. Not to mention, the squad tried to get more acquainted with the new system and with collegiate rookie head coach Jeff Napa.
New faces were also plunged into new roles; team captain Mcjour Luib together with standouts Rey Nambatac and Jomar Sollano tried their best to keep the Knights afloat during the season.
Even new face Matthew Bernabe — who the Letran officials had high hopes entering his rookie year — also pitched in with a couple of solid performances.
But the Knights just couldn’t.
The squad just wasn’t consistent enough throughout the tourney.
They just couldn’t ride on last year’s momentum, the target on their backs were set since the season’s opening day as other teams vividly played their A-game against the Knights.
And the team just didn’t respond to the level of play.
With their season done, expect a lot of changes as the Knights try to regroup for next year’s tournament.
As per reports, head coach Jeff Napa will hold new try-outs for next year’s version of the team in hopes of gearing for another title run.
Napa, however, promised the fans that next year will have a different outcome.
“Next year will be a different story. It’s a mix of old and young ones,” he told reporters from Spin.PH.